Most businesses rely on advertising that does not differentiate them from their competitors.
I want to share with you the 2 most common marketing mistakes that nearly all business owners make. If you’ve done any advertising or marketing for your business ever, at all, I can virtually guarantee that you’ve been making at least 1 of the following 2 common marketing mistakes. And, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been doing business for 5, 10, 20, 30 years or more, and have been getting what most people would consider pretty good results—I’m here to tell you that these 2 mistakes have cost you a lot of money in lost opportunity and lost business.
I’m not just saying that to catch your attention. In fact, I want you to get some of your marketing material right now—be it a brochure, a radio script, a TV ad, a newspaper or magazine ad, your website, whatever it is—get access to it right now and then evaluate it for yourself as I describe these 2 mistakes. I want you to objectively judge your own marketing and advertising and make a determination for yourself whether or not what I’m saying has value.
So let’s begin.
Mistake #1 is using one of the 3 Forbidden Phrases. So what are the 3 forbidden phrases? Well, they are phrases that use platitudes. In marketing, platitudes are essentially the kiss of death. So let me give you the definition of a platitude as it pertains to marketing.
Platitudes are words or phrases that are dull, obvious, or predictable that lack power to create interest because they are overused an unoriginal, that are nevertheless still commonly used as though they were unique or distinctive.
Let me give you some examples of platitudes.
They are words and phrases like, “Highest Quality”, “Best Service”, “Largest Selection”, “Gets the job done right the first time”, “30 years of experience”, “Been in business since 1776 B.C.”, “Honest, Hard Working”, “You’ve tried the rest now try the best”, “Number one”, “Your dealer of choice”, “State-of-the-art”, blah, blah, blah, blah.
Sound familiar? Of course it does. You’ve heard this kind of junk for years. But now here’s the killer question, do you have these terms in your marketing? I bet you do. I don’t even know you, but if I were a betting man (which I’m not), I’d bet the farm on the fact that your advertising and marketing is loaded with platitudes just like these right now. Take a look for yourself.
Here’s the bottom line. These platitudes that fill up your marketing and advertising are killing your profits and destroying your market opportunities.
You see, these platitudes don’t distinguish or separate you in the marketplace. They don’t quantify or specify anything. They’re not believable, they are usually not provable, and they cause your prospects to minimize, discount, disbelieve—or worst of all, ignore you altogether.
Ultimately, your target market ends up believing that you and your business are just like everybody else in your industry. This is why your target market always ends up grinding you down on price, regardless of how great you claim your “service” is or how much better you think you are than your competitors.
None of that matters, because you have introduced yourself to the marketplace as one more scoop of vanilla in a whole sea of vanilla. Now I’m not saying there is anything wrong with vanilla, in fact I love vanilla, but what I am saying is that if you are perceived as being vanilla—just like everyone else, the only real message you are portraying to your target market is “me too.”
Think about how pitiful that is. This is why you are not dominating your market and this is why your sales and revenues are dependent upon the force of the market and not your ability to win over more and more customers and dominate your sector. That’s a big difference.
Allow me to break this down further for you by giving you some objective evaluations to determine if you really are using platitudes in your advertising or not.
I want to take you through 3 platitude evaluations that come directly out of Rich Harshaw’s book, Monopolize Your Marketplace. Rich Harshaw is a living marketing genius, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have had his training. So let’s review these 3 evaluations which expose what we call the “3 Forbidden Phrases.”
Platitude Evaluation number one is called, “Well, I would hope so.”
Seriously, that’s the name of the evaluation. So here’s the deal, look at the statements and phrases in your advertising and then ask yourself this question. Could or would my prospects immediately respond to these statements by saying, “Well, I would hope so!”
For example, I’m looking right now at a couple of ads for plumbers. This one says, “we’ll find it and we’ll fix it.” Well, I would hope so, you’re a plumber for crying out loud. Or how about this incredible headline, “Plumbing Service and Repair.” Well I would hope so you are a plumber, right? I can’t believe it, this plumber here does plumbing service and repair.
“Quick honey, let’s call him instead of one of the other 500 plumbers in town who also do plumbing service and repair”.
Or check this ad out that says “licensed, bonded and insured,” and that they “fix taps and fixtures, water heaters, sinks, tubs and showers, etc.”
Well I would hope so. You’re a plumber. What else would you do? I mean, it’s so painfully obvious that it’s ridiculous. Or how about this common statement that says “committed to honest, ethical service.” Well I would hope so! What else would you expect them to say? Hey, we’re lousy, we’ll show up late, make your house dirty, expose our backsides to your kids and wife, and make sure that the problem that we fixed will break again a few weeks after we fix it. Of course not!
Everybody is going to say great things about themselves if they can get away with it.
Hopefully you see how ridiculous these statements are? Yet everyone uses them. Including you.
The biggest problem here is the fact that your true uniqueness and your true strengths, the real benefits that your customers get from doing business with you instead of your competitors can never shine when you use platitudes. So take a look at your advertising—especially all your printed advertising and marketing materials—do they pass the “Well I would hope so” evaluation? Or, are they full of platitudes? If you’re using platitudes, then you need to make changes.
And this is only evaluation #1. Let’s get to the other 2 evaluations…
Platitude Evaluation #2 is Who Else Can Say That?
Now, pay close attention to this one, because the question is not who else can do what you do, but who else can say what you say. The answer is usually anyone and everyone. Here’s a painter who says that he’s “Wellington’s best.” Really? Who else can say that?
Now this guy might actually be the best in Wellington and the best in the entire universe for all I know, but do you actually believe it just because he said it?
Who else can say that? Can’t the guy (on the next page of the phone book where I got this ad) who says, “where integrity and quality meet” also say that he’s Wellington’s best? Of course he can. See, these statements are dull and obvious and they lack power to create interest because they are overused an unoriginal. And you know what, they were nevertheless used as though they were unique or distinctive. Now look at your ad. Read a few lines and then ask yourself this, “Who else can say that?” If one of your competitors can say it, then you failed this evaluation.
One of the most common platitudes in advertisements is to tell us how long you’ve been in business. Everybody thinks it matters, but I promise you it doesn’t.
Here’s an illustration—I’m looking at a website for a Chiropractor who thinks you should visit his practice because he’s been a Chiropractor for over 29 years.
Who else can say that?
Well, how about his competitor who has the next listing in Google who has been “serving for over 30 years.” See what I mean? In fact, I want you to go online right now and type in any local industry to see what you find on company’s websites. Look up solicitors, mechanics, financial advisors, banks, contractors, designers, manufacturers, architects, technology companies, software companies, or any industry imaginable and compare them to their competitors who are also on the first page of Google and see what you’ll find.
What you’re going to find is that everybody is using virtually identical marketing statements. They are all platitudes. Everybody is saying what everybody else is saying meaning that the marketplace has to assume that everybody is basically the same—therefore the only thing that should matter is price. Do you hate getting ground down on price—well now you know why—it’s because you’ve become a master of the platitude over the years.
So let’s move onto the third evaluation, which often hurts the most because with this one, it all becomes very apparent that you have a marketing problem.
Platitude evaluation #3 is called “The Cross Out Write-In Test.”
Now for this evaluation, I’m going to have you cross out the name of your company in your advertisement and then write in the name of your competitor. Now tell me this, is the ad still valid? If so, you’ve just failed the test.
Another way to illustrate this is to do it in reverse. Cross out your competitor’s name and replace it with your company’s name. Now tell me, is the ad still valid?
I really don’t care if you absolutely know that you have higher quality than your competitor because your competitor can still say that they have higher quality than you even if it’s not true. I can give you hundreds of other examples for insurance companies who can give you “fast, easy quotes” or dentists who offer “complete dental care” or landscape contractors who “cut to perfection,” but the bottom line is that none of these ads pass the cross out, write-in test, or the other platitude evaluations.
When we implement the Power Marketing Program™ into your business, one of the first things we do is remove all of the platitudes from your existing advertising.
We innovate your company and create specific and strategic marketing headlines, messages, and campaigns that absolutely separate you from your competitors and cause your prospects and customers to draw this simple conclusion:
“I’d have to be completely insane to work with anyone else but you—no matter the price.”
We even have a specific marketing evaluation form that we use that guarantees that you’ll never put out another dismal ad with platitudes that gets lackluster results. You see, as I’ve already mentioned, platitudes cause your marketplace to assume that you and your competitors are all the same. But, that’s probably not true.
You might have the best business of its kind in your industry, but since your ads and your competitor’s ads all use platitudes, then the marketplace can’t tell who actually offers the best value, so they call you up and ask you the same question that you’re probably really sick of hearing, which is, “how much do you charge?”
It doesn’t have to be that way.
Let me give you one last example. Take a look at one of your company’s brochures. What’s on the top of the front cover? More than likely, you’ve put your company name and/or logo there. Guess what? If you did, you just failed the exam.
Let me explain why—nobody cares who you are until they know what you can do for them! Here’s another secret—instead of putting your company name or logo on the front cover of your brochure, you should put a hot-button loaded headline that emotionally connects with your prospects and makes them beg to read the content on the inside. I explain what I mean by this and exactly how to do it in our audio program.
So, is this making sense to you as you read it? Is it starting to become evident that using platitudes might be a problem for you right now and that you’d have a tremendous competitive advantage if you could figure out how to fix it?
I review the Strategic Marketing Formula for you in our audio program where I show you exactly how to fix this problem and get rid of the platitudes forever. I’ll teach you how to become a communications expert so you can start getting the results from your marketing that you should be getting.
Bio: Mike Noone is a Business Innovation Specialist, Copywriter and Certified Power Marketing Consultant. His background is in Construction crisis management and Psychotherapy. He is an Internationally Certified NLP Trainer and coach. He has started and run successful businesses in New Zealand, the UK, Poland and Thailand.
Mike is the author of several books including the International #1 Bestselling book “Speed Learning Secrets of NLP”. He lives in the Hutt Valley with his partner.
He is the Founder and COO of Tipping Point Marketing a Power Marketing Consultancy.